Are You Glad 2019 Is Over?
If the last twelve months brought you - in no particular order - excess stress, strained relationships, calamity, trials, challenges, occasions where you thought “Why me?”, consternation, or alternatively, busyness, rushing about, scattered energy, an over-abundance of things to weigh on your mind and do and think about and plan and adjust…you may have thought: "Phew! Good riddance to bad rubbish" as you celebrated the end of 2019 and a fresh start in 2020.
My personal theme for this year is Vision – after all, aren’t we all trying to achieve that elusive goal of 20/20 vision, where we see clearly and are seen clearly? One definition of 20/20 vision is that it expresses the clarity or sharpness of your eyesight when measured at a distance of 20 feet, and how clear your target – what you’re looking at or what you’re looking for - is.
20 feet isn’t very far to see – in fact, there can be so many things just outside of your vision, your notice at the 20-foot mark, that you could miss out on a much-needed opportunity while trying to clear your vision of what happened in 2019.
Instead of starting the New Year and thinking of all the things that went wrong, or the things you were challenged by, embrace this time as a brand new opportunity to put it all behind you and move joyfully forward. If you’re a fan of the Lion King, Timon said it best: “You’ve gotta put your behind in your past.”
Where To Begin?
In order to close out 2019 and start 2020 in a positive way, you must release any leftover negative thoughts you've held onto about the events of last year. Yes, they were unpleasant, and yes, they might have been learning experiences, but we don’t want to dwell on the difficult feelings they engendered and spend too much of today’s valuable time and energy trying to re-hash what has already happened.
Avoid like the plague the “stinkin’ thinkin’” that says nothing will change in the New Year, or that things will always be stuck in that same undesirable place. A New Year is a clean slate – think of it as a blackboard where you don’t just wipe away what’s written there, but you wash it clean, get rid of any leftover dust or residue and start over with a new piece of chalk. For you old heads like me, think of that bulky, heavy Etch-a-Sketch you might have had as a child, and shake that thang until everything that WAS written there is obliterated, never to be seen again. All the back and forth, the left and right turns, the skips and misses – let it all go!
What happened is in the past and before you lie the possibility and promise of a new future – one YOU get to define.
The key is to set your mind on how things will be better this year. By focusing your mind on what you want and what’s desirable, as opposed to what you don't want, you'll be able to see last year's challenges and difficulties in a different light.
Seeing a setback as a temporary glitch in the Matrix, or as my Mama might say – a hitch in your get-along – helps you to see the past events as minor bumps in the road; the kind of thing that you can overcome, even if it takes some time. Seeing things this way – perhaps a different way than you’re used to - will allow you to continue moving forward in a positive direction, even when things aren't going 100% your way. Learn the lesson, take in the wisdom, but please, please, don’t get stuck in the past!
Even the happy-go-luckiest, everything-is-going-my-way people have challenges. Just like you and I, at times they struggle and feel beat down. The difference? They draw on their reserves of strength, commitment and yes, even stubbornness to help them get back up again and focus on solutions rather than bemoan and wallow in their problems.
One great coping mechanism? Put your laser focus on Letting Go of the Past…
When you release what you struggled with from the closed year, you free yourself to move forward without its heavy trappings, redirecting your energy and strength, freeing space in your mind to take on new experiences.
Even if something (or someone) hurt you or made you upset, and even if people (friends, family co-workers) were unfair to you or treated you wrongly, today can be a new day for you.
“I am pure light, not just a fistful of clay. The shell is not me; I came as the royal pearl within. Look at me not with outward eye but with inward vision of the heart;
Follow me there and see how unencumbered we become.”
Wise words from the poet Rumi
There are several ways to let go of past hurts – one of which is to take Rumi’s example and see yourself as the royal pearl within your human shell. Look at yourself with the inward vision of the heart – always seeing you, me, us with 20/20 vision, and seeing what we can become instead of what we HAVE been.
Experiment with a way to see and release past challenges until you find what works for you. The good news is that if you keep trying different approaches, you'll find something that helps you succeed in putting your behind in the past and letting go of that weight that’s holding you back or dragging you down.
You are MORE than the sum of your past experiences – whether they were victories or challenges.
“Absorbed in this world, you’ve made it your burden. Rise above this world – there IS another vision. All your life you’ve paid attention to your experiences, but never to your Self.
Are you searching for your Soul? Then come out of your prison. Leave the stream and join the river that flows into the Ocean. It will not lead you astray. Let the beauty you seek be what you do.”
Rumi speaks wisely – and he knows much of what we in this time experience, though he lived many years before us all.
Instead of slow-sliding into the New Year with a sense of dread or antipathy, feeling that nothing good is going to happen, or that the challenges will not change, I want to encourage you to CHARGE into the new year with a sense of PASSION – yes, PASSION.
Passion can be defined as a strong and barely controllable emotion – and the beginning of a new year is a wonderful time to commit to making some changes in your life that will ignite your sense of passion and help empower you to live a more vibrant existence – you can make those changes NOW – not at some time in the future, RIGHT NOW.
Here are some “do it now” strategies to begin making changes and adding passion to your life in this new year:
1. Pay special attention to your health.
Revitalize your entire self – body, mind and spirit - by eating well (or at least better than in the recent past), exercising more – and working up to exercising vigorously, and getting enough sleep.
Commit to making positive changes – even if they come one at a time – for the next 21 to 28 days, until the end of this month – and then reset the timer to start the very next day and do it again. Make those positive changes stick for another 21 to 28 days.
Make yourself a priority and commit to doing what your body needs you to do – for instance, I’m an insulin-dependent diabetic. One of the promises I made to myself before the new year started was to take better care of my body. In the past I’ve started and stopped any number of workout plans and routines, getting bored with them eventually and slowly but surely finding reasons NOT to work out.
Before the end of 2019, I started a new dance-based workout plan that fires me up and makes me happy – and I look forward to working out every day now. No, it’s not the easiest thing you’ll ever do, but YOU are worth the effort it takes to make acting on behalf of your good health a consistent habit. Take care of your teeth, your hair, and your skin – these easily noticed changes will help you to feel more attractive every single day, and when you start feeling more attractive on a daily basis, you’ll boost your self-esteem and reinforce the good behavior you performed to get to that place.
Let yourself get excited about the positive changes you’re making regarding your body and overall health.
2. Read more.
Although you may prefer other activities, reading is a positive use of your time that expands your mind and heart and can positively affect your sense of strength and resilience of spirit in many ways. Focus on reading about topics you enjoy or want to learn more about.
- If you love to travel, read travel guides and stories set in the places you’d like to visit.
- If you adore your dog or cat, read about their breed, training (or negotiation) techniques, and how to care for their health.
- Expanding your intellectual horizons by reading will help you become a more interesting person who has plenty of things to talk about with others.
3. Each week, plan and execute a “Date Night” (or morning, or afternoon) with the love of your life.
Dates can help positively enhance your closeness and make your relationship stronger. They also add an element of fun to your partnership and help you make great memories.
- Whether it’s Tuesday evening pizza and a movie at home or a Saturday night dinner followed by dancing, make the intentional, focused effort to spend special time each week with your partner. Ignite the fires of passion and change your lives for the better as you strengthen and deepen your relationship.
4. Set priorities and keep them straight.
For example, if your priorities include family, work, and self, be sure to consider each one when you’re making decisions. The key is to be aware of your priorities, and the order in which you handle them.
- Start this year by behaving in ways that demonstrate your priorities. Maintain your focus on what’s important to you throughout the year – and don’t let YOU become the “last thing” on your list for an extended amount of time.
- When your existence matches your priorities, you’ll be more passionate about what you’re doing at home, in the workplace, and on your own.
5. This year, plan to do something you haven’t done before.
Nothing gets the juices flowing like engaging in a novel activity. Will it be that ten-day trip to Europe you’ve wanted to take or finally moving into those new condos with the fitness center and swimming pool, or perhaps a weekend drive to visit a historical site?
- Maybe your new experience will be something you’ve wanted to do for years or perhaps it’s something you’ve just decided to explore – consider taking a course at a local community college, or volunteering for an organization that you’ve supported from afar for a while.
- New experiences open up new possibilities and encourage growth in your mind, heart and spirit. You may even find that the activity charges you up and helps you take a new direction in life with the beginning of this new decade.
6. Put your best foot forward at work and / or in your community.
If you’ve reached the point where you’re bored with your current work, business or activities, you’ve got the power to decide to take action and spice it up. Strive to excel at your job or business, or with your favorite activity this year. Volunteer for that new project, take on an undesirable task, or simply expand your efforts each day.
- Skip the gossip sessions at the water cooler, or online – give yourself a break from negativity and time-wasting negative social media and instead, offer extra help to your supervisor or manager, or to another member of an organization you’re a part of when someone looks like they could use it.
- Document your efforts – for yourself, to raise your self-esteem, and so that when the chance for a promotion or a new assignment arises, you’ll be ready to step up, stretch out, and show what you’re made of. Be confident and let the people know why you’re the best person for the job.
Do everything you can to kick off the new year with commitment, a new perspective, passion and purpose – decide to live your best life, starting now, and take action to make it happen.
You’ll soon discover that you’re feeling more vibrant, interested, and passionate in all aspects of your life.
I want to close with one more bit of wisdom from the poet Rumi – “Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and twice as beautiful as you’d ever imagined. Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
Happy New Year! Amen, Blessed Be, Ashe